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Rabbits/Your opinion on whether or not I should get another rabbit

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Question
I have asked for your guidance in the past and value your opinion very much therefore I decided to ask for your help on this subject.  I know you will advise me based on what is best for all in this case.

I have a 4 year old (neutered) Netherland Dwarf which has been with me for 3 1/2 years.  He is completely free range on 2 floors of our house.  He lives with 3 cats and a dog and likes most everyone he meets.  A month ago I decided that I would like to get another rabbit.  I adopted a spayed REW from the local rabbit rescue.  We believe she is about 1 l/2 old. She is warming up to me more and more each day and had no fear of the cats or dog from the minute she arrived.  However as is often the case she doesn't like the other rabbit.  She is brutal with him and he just won't stand up to her at all.  I am afraid she is going to seriously hurt or even kill him so I don't want to pursue bonding.

I have moved the female to the family room.  I thought I would be ok with her in there but I am not.  I feel she has long periods during the day when she is too isolated and others when it is just too busy for her.  She has no control over her space and I am not comfortable with that.  A couple of days ago I decided to fix up an area for her in our basement.  Our basement is finished and is part of our living space.  I removed the furniture and rabbit proofed an area which is 10 X 15.  Three sides have walls and the end can be closed with a NIC gate.  This space opens into the area where we watch TV. I should also add that I made a NIC cage approx. 4 X 6 which I will use to ensure she is safe overnight and when I am away.  After completing this I got the idea that I should extend this space and get another rabbit so that she would have company.  I would do this on the understanding that again they may never bond but they could be neighbours.  This is what I would value your opinion on.  If they don't bond would they enjoy each other's company as neighbours provided they both have lots of space. Thank you in advance for your help and advise on this.

Answer
Dear Jeannette,

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how she will react.  Rabbit bondings must be done slowly and carefully, and the BEST way is to allow the bunny to choose her own mate from among the rescues at your local rabbit rescue foster home.  The rescuer should be able to coach you through the "blind date" process to see who's the best candidate.  But it won't stop there.  

You'll need to do bondings in neutral territory, car rides (shared stress is a great bonding tool), etc. until the bunnies are truly friends.  Until then, they should not be in the same territory at all.  If you didn't try these tricks with your current male bunny, it might not be too late.  You can find some excellent articles here:

http://tinyurl.com/cmv6wpv

I hope this helps, and peace and happiness will once again descend on your household.  :)

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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